The government of Enugu State has expressed interest in collaborating with the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on the training of youths in the state on digital skills, information and communication technology (ICT) which would make them self-reliant, create wealth for themselves and provide jobs for others.
This was made known by the state governor, Dr. Peter Mbah, when a team from NITDA led by its Director General, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, who was represented by the Director of Zonal Offices, Babajide Ajayi, paid a courtesy visit to the governor at the Government House, Enugu, on Wednesday.
Governor Mbah informed the agency of his government’s efforts to expose the youths to the emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, mechatronics, virtual reality, augmented reality, robotics, fintech and others, which are presently driving the global economy, stressing that the state would be glad to partner with the agency to achieve its goals.
“We recognise that a lot of the skill set that the youths have today may no longer be relevant to the emerging future. And this emerging future requires our young people to be upskilled digitally so that they can embrace the emerging possibilities it affords. So we know that the world is now moving into robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and agumented reality,” he added.
The governor, who appreciated the federal government for choosing Enugu for its zonal headquarters, further said his administration would forge an alliance with NITDA to train and upskill a minimum of 40,000 youths in the state annually as a way of empowering them and ensuring they could become major players in the digital space.
Speaking on the role of technology in phasing out the brick-and-mortar method of trading which was becoming old-fashioned, Mbah said plans were already being perfected to equip young ones in the state with fintech and cyber security skills to enable them integrate into the digital market, saying “we are going to equip them with the skills that allow them to do e-commerce so that they will be able to have their market base in the entire globe”.
He stressed that the economy of the state would not only be driven by technology, it would help the administration achieve its strategic objectives of growing the economy seven-fold from $4.4 billion to $30 billion, and eradicate poverty from the nook and crannies of the state.
“We are going to drive that growth with technology and not magic. The exponential growth projection can only come through technology. We have already started doing it. If you look at our governance structure, we have migrated our services to digital platform. Currently, we are digitising and we started with the 11 ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs), and we are looking at extending it to the 109 MDAs that we have in the state. We have already intervened in our land administration and management system. People are able to apply and obtain their certificate of occupancy within 72 hours. And when I say 72 hours, my team members will always interrupt and say ‘no, it’s 48 hours’. I don’t think there is any city in Africa where you can apply and get your certificate of occupancy in 72 hours,” the governor added.
Addressing the governor earlier, the NITDA Director General said their visit was necessitated by their desire to collaborate with the state in achieving its strategic objectives and vision, noting that the partnership would elevate the state in line with the governor’s mission and vision for the state.
“We are here in Enugu State to look at how we can actually deepen our collaboration with the state government. We don’t want to just stay in Abuja and do things in isolation. We want to work with the state government, we want to collaborate with them. We want to connect with the stakeholders in the state in the ecosystem, and we also want to share our strategic vision with the state and see how the state can also tap into our vision. In addition to this, we want to explain how we can further partner with the state and the ecosystem to drive digital economy.
“We want to actually hear from them and see how we can move the state forward with regards to ICT,” he added.
He said approval has been given by the NITDA headquarters to site its South East Zonal headquarters in Enugu.
On his part, the Director, Corporate Planning and Strategy, Dr. Aristotle Onumo, commended Governor Mbah for the strategic steps his administration has been taking in the area of technology, maintaining that the decision to site the agency’s zonal office was a milestone and result of the commitment the governor had shown in his effort to “engage and move Enugu State, especially young people to breathe and have something meaningful doing”.
According to him, the responsibility of government was beyond job creation to engaging the people, lifting them out of the pit of poverty and improving the human capital index, adding that these responsibilities could not be achieved without collaboration.
“It is on that note that we as an agency are keying in to that government programme of poverty alleviation, job creation, entrepreneurship and also supporting start-ups. And that is why we are here for this conversation with the Enugu State stakeholders and His Excellency the Governor particularly and also see how Enugu State Government will benefit from the agency’s programme. We have the focus and the goal to develop about 1 million talents to empower our youths. We want to engage the youths to leave criminality and crimes through digital economy,” he stressed.
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